Global warming could force up to 216 million people to leave their region by 2050, for lack of available water or sufficient agricultural production, says the World Bank, estimating that this phenomenon is not however irreversible.
“Climate change is an increasingly powerful engine of migration,” noted experts from the institution in a report published on Monday, noting “the urgency to act” while “the means of subsistence and human well-being are increasingly put to the test ”.
This report complements the first of its kind, unveiled in 2018, and focused on three regions of the world: Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America. The institution then projected 143 million “climate migrants” by 2050 for these parts of the developing world.
This time, it added three other regions: East Asia and the Pacific, North Africa as well as the part comprising Eastern Europe and Central Asia, in order to develop a “global estimate” for poor countries, says Juergen Voegele, vice president of the World Bank responsible for sustainable development in the report.
The 216 million represent “nearly 3% of the total population” of these regions, say the authors of the report.
But the number could be higher insofar as the World Bank does not count migrants from North America, rich countries in Europe or even the Middle East, where climatic disasters are raging.
“Not in marble”
“It is important to note that this projection is not set in stone,” commented Mr. Veogele, however.
“If countries now start reducing greenhouse gases, reducing development gaps, restoring vital ecosystems and helping people adapt, climate migration could be reduced by around 80%, to 44%. million people by 2050, ”he explains.
Conversely, without decisive action, there will be “hot spots” of climate migration, he warns, with significant repercussions for host regions, often ill-prepared to receive many additional migrants.
“The trajectory of climate migration over the next half century depends on our collective action on climate change and development over the next few years,” concludes Voegele, calling for action “now”.
“Not all migrations can be avoided,” he also notes. But “if managed well, changes in the distribution of the population can be part of an effective coping strategy, enabling people to lift themselves out of poverty and build resilient livelihoods,” he says.
For now, the World Bank predicts that by 2050, sub-Saharan Africa could have as many as 86 million climate migrants; East Asia and the Pacific, 49 million; South Asia, 40 million; North Africa, 19 million; Latin America, 17 million; and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, 5 million.
The report cites several examples, including that of North Africa, where the issue of water availability is the main driver of internal migration.
The lack of water thus pushes the populations of non-coastal areas and the interior to leave, “slowing down population growth in the hot spots of climatic emigration along the northeast coast of Tunisia, the Algerian coast, western and southern Morocco, and the central foothills of the Atlas already under water stress ”.
In Egypt, the eastern and western parts of the Nile Delta, including Alexandria, could become “hot spots” for population departures due to both declining water availability and rising water levels. of the sea.
On the contrary, Cairo, Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, the Casablanca-Rabat corridor and Tangier could become “hot spots of migratory influx”.
And, unsurprisingly, it is the poorest and most vulnerable regions that are most at risk from the effects of climate change, at the risk of reversing the development gains that have been made in recent decades.